Chapter 3 – Home Base

Sookie climbed into the car with her face on fire, she knew she was as red as a tomato and she didn’t want to have to talk about it with her cousin, and she certainly didn’t want to talk about it with her brother. Not after that. What they had done was beyond obscene and they should be as ashamed of themselves as she was ashamed for them, but she knew they weren’t. If they had been they never would have done it, like she would have never done it. They had been in public, they had been with strangers, they had been everything the people of Bon Temp accused her family of being. Didn’t they know they were playing into everyone’s expectations, didn’t they know they had to be better than that if they wanted to change peoples minds about them.

“Why would I want to do that, it sounds exhausting, besides that’s your problem not mine. I’m not the one trying to fit in.” Daina sounded offended like the idea of being like the people around her was worse than death. Like she didn’t think normal was worth striving for.

Sookie tried to hold in her sigh of frustration but didn’t quite manage it. You really need to stay out of my head or at least stop answering me out loud. It’s rude and part of your problem. You don’t respect people. She certainly didn’t respect her family, if she did she would have stopped a long time ago, not just carried on getting more and more outrageous. Maybe I’m wrong though and you’re right and that is one of my problems, but you know what I’m not the only one in this car with issues. Your problem is you don’t listen to the people around you. At least she didn’t listen to what they actually wanted her to listen to. Daina was so busy getting in peoples heads she forgot that normal people couldn’t do that and that she shouldn’t do that.

“And your problem is you listen too much. Sookie honey it might have slipped your notice but we’re born and raised southern white trash if it wasn’t this they talked about it would be something else. People will always talk Sook, it’s like a favorite hobby, that don’t mean you gotta listen. You sure as hell don’t have to let it run your life. I sure don’t. I do what I like as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else I don’t see why it matters, to you or anyone else.” Daina sounded as tired and emotionally drained as she felt and that just wasn’t fair, she was the one getting picked on not Daina. Daina was the picker on-er.

“What you and Jason do reflects on me!” They were family, they were collected together in people’s minds and judged to be the same as one another. She worked hard her whole life to live down Jason’s tom-cat ways and his general lack of motivation and allergy to responsibility just to have Daina roll into town and act more like him than her. She was showing everyone in town that their family was more like Jason when it all came down to it and she was sick of it. Her family was so much more than their worst behavior and she wanted people to see that.

“Not when it comes to the people who really matter it doesn’t. Have Tara or Lala or heck even Gran ever held what Jason does against you? I know they’ve never held what I do against you, for one they don’t know what I do and for two even if they did they would be hard pressed to link the two of us together given how long it’s been since anyone in your life has seen me. So just settle down, it’s not like something that happened in a roadside diner halfway between home and Texas is going to come back on you later. How you react to it might just come back on you sooner than you think though, like now.” 

“What do you mean how I react?” Her reaction was perfectly natural, normal even. What they did was shocking and she was shocked, end of discussion.

“I will not be judged Sookie Stackhouse, not by strangers, not by family, not by ANYONE! Do you hear me? You have a right to govern your own actions, choose for yourself what you do and don’t feel comfortable doing but at no time are you ever allowed to judge the action I or anyone else choose for our lives. Do you understand?”

That put her back on her heels. No one had ever yelled at her like that before, they had always just smiled at her when she gave them what for and even sometimes took her words to heart. She was just trying to help.

“No you’re not, you’re trying to control and that is not okay. You are pious and polite and conscious of your every move trying to keep everyone around you happy and that’s fine because that’s who you are as a person. I am impulsive and a little morally shaky and I couldn’t care less what the people around me think about what I say or do because that’s who I am as a person and that’s okay too. Jason is somewhere in the middle of the two of us he is overly sexualized but he never intentionally makes anyone feel bad about themselves, he’s impulsive and doesn’t always think things through at the offset of a plan but he does eventually slow down and give it a minutes thought and if he was wrong he owns up to that and tries to make it right, and while he doesn’t really think before he talks if someone gets their feelings hurt by something he says he tries to make it up to them even if his attempts aren’t always the best he still tries. Now, tell me what’s so wrong with that?” She was trying to confuse her, trying to make all the negative things sound like positives and she wasn’t going to let her do it.

“I know he tries, but he also messes up more than most too. His trying only comes into things after he messes up not before.” She knew if Jason could just start caring about things in the right order he could fix his life. He didn’t care about people’s feelings until after he hurt them, he needed to start taking them into account before they got mad at him not after.

And what makes you think your opinion on his life matters? You want to fix your brother and make him more mindful of people and their feelings but he’s been sitting right behind you in this car for the past twenty minutes while you run him down like a dog and pretty much shout out to the whole world that you think his life is a giant mess and worth a whole lot of nothing. Maybe you should work on your mindfulness before you start going after others.

Sookie whipped around in her seat to look at Jason sitting still and quiet in the seat behind her, his eyes wide and a little wet with unshed tears. She had been so focused on her argument with Daina she had forgotten to sensor what she said about him where he could hear her.

That’s another thing right there, your naive nature is rearing its head again. You seem to think that if you only say it where he can’t hear it if that’s in your head or only when he’s not around then it’s not hurtful. It is! Even if he doesn’t hear you saying it Sook he can see you thinking it and it’s more than obvious in the way you treat him. Heck half the town probably knows how you feel about Jason and the way he lives his life.

“I am not naive!” She really wished Daina would stop calling her that, she might have decided to stay in her small town since her affliction didn’t do well in bigger areas but that didn’t make her stupid.

“Yes you are! If the way you see your relationships isn’t enough to convince you then maybe thinking about the way you treated that poor bellboy back at the hotel will.”

“What about him? He was the first telepath I’ve ever met outside of our family. I just wanted to help him.”

“I know you did Sookie, you were broadcasting that desire loud and clear, but that’s the problem you were so busy wanting to help him that you didn’t notice he didn’t want your help. The boy was even farther in denial of his gifts than you are, for fucks sake Sookie he got a job at a vampire hotel to try and find at least a bit of peace surrounded by mental voids in a big city full of too much chatter. All he wanted to do was fly under everyone’s radar and there you were jumping up and down practically waving flags in that same vamp hotel that there was something interesting about this one guy so please come over and look. Your advice to concentrate until his hair hurts from the strain wasn’t really advice at all but a vague ass description of what it feels like for you when you put up your mental shields not a way to actually get them up there so that was no use to him, you didn’t even say what to concentrate on just to do it. Was he supposed to concentrate on the voices? The voids? His own inner voice? Nobody knows cause you never said. Then the boy practically ran for cover when you finally let him out of the corner you trapped him in and you were so happy to meet him you didn’t even notice how uncomfortable he was. You say I don’t listen, but honey you don’t see or hear anything you don’t want to and that’s naive to the extreme.”

She hadn’t done that. Had she? She had been so excited to meet someone other than a relative who was like her, finally there was a reason to think this dang curse wasn’t against just her and her blood. Had she been so excited she overlooked the way the other guy felt about her being there? Well even if she did, that wasn’t being naive, that was just being a little too enthusiastic it happened all the time to people, she was not different.

“For heaven’s sake Sookie no it doesn’t happen all the time and yes you are different. Most people don’t have telepathy so they have to read the person in front of them in a different way. They would have noticed the way he shifted from foot to foot like he wanted to run away, the way his eyes darted all around  the two of you to see if anyone was paying attention to your interest, the way he looked closer and closer to passing out the longer you talked he was panicking so hard. You are different, your telepathy has made it where you just don’t notice if someone isn’t thinking about how uncomfortable they are in clear loud sentences.” Daina stopped and took a deep breath like she was trying to wrestle the words back under control which didn’t bode well for what she wanted to say given what she’d said already.

“Look Sookie, I can’t convince you that you need to take a harder look at yourself and your life, only you can do that. Only you know if you’re really happy in a relationship with a guy who doesn’t respect you and who doesn’t tell you even basic things about himself without making a big deal about his fangs first. Only you know if you’re content working at a bar where everyone looks down on you because you stare at them like you’re looking through them and answer things they not only didn’t say out loud but don’t remember thinking about either. Only you know what your next move should be, I’ve said my peace and Jason as mighty mouse as he is about hurting your delicate feelings has said his.”

She spoke with finality like the conversation was over just because she was done talking. Well, it wasn’t, not by a long shot. 

“You’re so gung-ho about my relationship and my vampire, what about yours? You want to talk about my life and how I treat my family, what about yours?” Turn about was fair play! If they were going to go into her life and Jason’s life then Daina should be willing to have her own looked at.

“You couldn’t look at my life if you tried, you don’t know anything about my life but fine if that’s the conversation you want to have then that’s the conversation we’ll have. If this is what you think will make you feel better than fine, let’s do this.” Sookie was starting to think she might have gone down the wrong path. When Daina got really mad it was best to just leave her alone not rile her up more, and riled she was.

“What did you want to start with? Family? Well my mother the paragon of virtue who decided to move me away from family just because she thought telepathy was catching or something and she didn’t want me to tell my father about her romp with the truly offensively ugly pool boy. Well, you will be happy to hear she has not grown as a person at all in the intervening decade since you last saw her, in fact the only thing to change is that now she’s trying to recapture her youth by signing me up for every ridiculous beauty pageant she can find in our county or the surrounding hundred miles or so. So you are right enough that I came running towards Louisiana not to save you but to avoid being slathered with toxic sludge they call make-up and stabbed to death with pins to hold my dress tight enough around my middle to show off my figure at its best. While the whole time she’s busy boffing the lighting guy off stage.”

Daina was working up a whole head of steam at this point and Sookie didn’t blame her. She had from time to time wished that her parents hadn’t died, if for no other reason than just so that she and Jason weren’t such a burden to their Gran during her twilight years. Now she wasn’t so sure, because as bad as Daina’s mom seemed to be she could remember her mother being much the same in their youth. Would her mom have continued down her already downward spiral instead of getting better along the way? Could she have watched it happen and still become the girl she was now? Or would she be more like Daina.

“Of course you’re probably thinking at least my father is there for me.” The look she cut her way with her eyes told Sookie that she knew better but was giving her at least a verbal benefit of the doubt if not one in actuality. “Well, my father lost himself to the bottle long before we even left Louisiana and never really crawled back out of it. I give him about three more years before there’s a new funeral for you two to dress up for. He’s been barely conscious for pretty much the whole of my life.” Daina didn’t sound bitter, she just sounded like she was talking about the weather. Like what she was saying had no real impact on her life at all.

Sookie was starting to regret taking her anger out on Daina, because now all she felt was grief. Grief for the relationship they used to have and don’t anymore. 

“What was your other conversation dot? Godric. Sure, let’s talk about him. He is interesting and fun, end of story. I went up to that roof to give him the last option to turn back and he took it, now we’re just drifting along until one or both of us drift in a different direction. End of story.” That sounded beyond sad to her for some reason.

Sookie opened her mouth to try and apologize or maybe start a less charged conversation, something, when Jason reached up from the backseat and put his hand on her shoulder. Looking back at him she saw him shaking his head to get her to keep quiet. They were all done with talking for the night and they were almost home. Everything could wait until they got home.

Godric looked around Fangtasia with a sneer of distaste on his lips. He understood the necessity of it and even the allure for the younger ones, but it made him want to tear it all down. He could feel from his Childe that he knew what he was feeling and found amusement at his reactions. That was fine, as long as Eric never tried to make him sit on display in this monstrosity he would leave it standing for him. 

Pamela was a surprise, while he had never met the woman before he had felt the way Eric indulged and adored her throughout their time together and he had expected something far worse than he found. While he did not necessarily approve of how much she was indulged it was not his choice to make so he chose to let it go.

Compton and his progeny had chosen to not follow them to the club, so they were alone, which was good for Eric and his standing in his retinue. If any other vampire was present and saw their Sheriff kneeling before him he would become a target of intrigue and incessant questions and he did not want that. He had already explained to both Compton and his progeny what would befall them if they breathed a word of his place in Eric’s life. 

He came to Louisiana to be near his newest interest, not to step from one power structure into another. He had no interest in usurping anyone’s authority as long as they left him alone, but if anyone came between him and Daina he would respond accordingly. 

He already had permission to move into the Area, he had a home waiting for him that came equipped with a secure area for him to rest though he would be staying with Eric until he was sure of the security offered there. There was no need to be so careless with his life now that he had chosen to exist for at least a little while longer. 

Soon enough his new life would begin and he was truly looking forward to it for the first time in centuries.

Jason sat in his sisters’ house trying to think through everything that had happened to him that night. Not even really only that night, but since Gran’s funeral. Or before that even, before Maudette Pickens crashed into his life and made him question everything. His life had been a wreck for a while and he wasn’t sure how to fix it but tonight had shown him that it wasn’t really as simple as just trying really hard to do the right thing. Heck, it wasn’t even just succeeding at doing the right thing. 

He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, but he was sure of one thing and one thing only.

“Daina if you want you can come over and stay at mine for a while. I got a spare room and everything just sitting around waiting for someone to fill it.” He didn’t want her being forced to go home, though he knew better than some that forcing Daina to do anything never ended well, he didn’t want to leave her having to choose between one bad situation and another either. He might not be good at much, but one thing he was always proud of was he was good at protecting them that needs it.

“Sure cousin Jason, I would love to.” Sookie looked about ready to spit nails and for once he found he didn’t really care. Daina had pointed out a fair few things that he hadn’t really thought of himself before and now that he was thinking about it he damn well didn’t like it none. Sookie was going to learn here shortly that while she saw herself as a good person that didn’t mean he was a bad one and she needed to stop treating him like he was. 

Things were about to change in the Stackhouse Clan.

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